Department of Health Announces Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccine Phase 1B
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands—The Virgin Islands Department of Health has advanced its phasebased COVID-19 vaccination plan from 1A to 1B. Per recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Phase 1A included clinical healthcare staff, residents and staff in long-term care facilities, persons in need of special care and staff in congregate living facilities (outside of nursing homes) and the elderly throughout the territory.
Phase 1A vaccinations started on December 16, 2020 and will continue throughout the upcoming phases. The Department of Health has received 4,825 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and approximately 1,200 doses have been administered across the territory.
Additional vaccines are being ordered and delivered on a weekly basis to ensure adequate supply to our community. In addition to first responders, persons with immunocompromised conditions, and the 65 and older population, Phase 1B comprises specified frontline staff of select local and federal public and private agencies or entities that regularly engage with the public. The following groups range from emergency or first responders to teachers and grocery workers.
These organizations include the following:
Local and Federal Courts
Water and Power Authority
Virgin Islands Police Department
Customs and Border Protection
Virgin Islands National Guard
Bureau of Corrections
Transportation Security Administration
Virgin Islands Fire Service
Virgin Islands Department of Education
VI Taxi Associations
Department of Human Services (Field Workers, Case Workers, and Home Care Workers)
Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Enforcement Officers
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Department of Planning and Natural Resources Enforcement Officers
Department of Tourism
VITRAN Bus Drivers
Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation
United States Postal Service
Legislature of the Virgin Islands
University of the Virgin Islands
Jurisdictions across the nation are not obligated to comply with ACIP recommendations for phased vaccination population determinations; however, as most jurisdictions, we are using their recommendations as a guide.
It is expected for the Department to roll into subsequent phases as the vaccine inventory increases. The department has partnered with VITEMA to ensure the local and federal government target populations are vaccinated by working within each vaccinating provider’s schedule and notifying the agency of which provider can be contacted for an appointment. A letter from VITEMA was issued to those groups requesting they indicate the number of persons in their agency who are interested in receiving the vaccine. Not all agencies have responded, but those who have were instructed to make an appointment with a participating provider.
There are 28 providers (not including hospitals and distribution hubs) who have enrolled to administer vaccines and more who have expressed an interest in becoming a provider.
The next vaccination phase is 1C and includes individuals who work in water and waste management, food services, shelters and housing, finance, information technology and communications, energy, legal, and media with a continuation of those not vaccinated in phases 1A and 1B. Phases 2 and 3 encapsulate the wider public starting with those in prior phases who have not yet been vaccinated, then the rest of the wider public.
The overall vaccination process is fluid and changes depending on the allotment of vaccines sent to the territory as it becomes available nationally. The territory requests at least the minimum dose amount per vaccine (975 for Pfizer and 1,900 for Moderna) which is sent weekly as ordered. There are no exact dates for each phase to start and stop. The department is in the planning phases for mass vaccination slated for the early Spring of 2021.
For more information, please visit covid19usvi.com/vaccines.